Interviews Q&A

Top 25 Interviews of 2014: No. 16 Eric Church

Eric Church

I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed Eric Church. It was in 2010 at Joe’s Pub after his performance at the CMA Songwriters Series. We were in a tiny dressing room backstage and it was a different side of the singer than I had expected. A few months earlier I saw him live for the first time opening for Miranda Lambert and he put on a high energy show that packed a punch. At the CMA Songwriters Series, he was stripped down with just a guitar telling the stories behind his songs. The entire interview, he’d answer each question with a “Yes, ma’am” and I was pleasantly confused. While I understand that’s a Southern way to show respect I was confused because I was quite a bit younger than him.

This past February, I was in Nashville for work and my colleague Kurt and I headed to a record studio on Music Row to sit down with Eric once again. Maybe because it was two of us, he never said “Yes, ma’am” but the interview was nothing short of insightful. Below is an excerpt of the Q&A. Read the rest at

You’ve said that the process of making an album is tough and takes a lot out of you. Do you still feel that way?

It’s brutal. It’s why I won’t make a lot of them. I think you have to put yourself there artistically, first of all as a songwriter [Church cowrote every song on The Outsiders not to mention nearly every song on his three previous studio albums, too] . That’s the most important thing, is you have to … go get em and write em. It’s hard. And the worst part for me, is after you know you got the songs, then you got to record them that way, you have to capture them. So what you wrote then has to turn into something that stands up to the lyrical content on the record.

And I’ve lost more songs that way, where you got the best song in the world, but for whatever reason you didn’t capture that magic. So that’s the maddening part. You lose that, song’s gone, and you’ve wasted it. And when you’ve written 121 and [edited them down] to 12, you don’t want to lose those 12. So that part’s maddening to me, and it’s the hardest part of what I do.

You really wrote 121 songs for this project?

I was shocked to learn that myself. We wrote about 60 for Chief, so we wrote twice as many. I don’t know why … it wasn’t something like, ‘let’s write twice as many.’ It just ended up being that way.

What were the ideas behind the cryptic video teasers you created leading up to the release of The Outsiders?

I wish I could take more credit, [but] my manager actually came up with that and shot those. I love a good mystery anyway, I love having fun. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, never have been, and never will be [laughs]. So it’s a way to interact with the fans without that. It’s a way to have some fun [and] add some intrigue.

There’s a lot of mysteries and a lot of hidden messages that are in those cryptic things that talk about a lot of stuff that’s coming down the line, that [fans] don’t know yet. Maybe a single choice, maybe another video, maybe another character. And we put that in there just to see how many of them could pick it apart and find out. So that’s what it was, just a different way of interacting.

Is that also true of the story and characters that appear in your video for “Give Me Back My Hometown”?

Same thing. And we actually talked about that in the cryptic messages, we alluded to what was coming in the video. All the characters that are in that — light will be shed on them, as we go through this single process and video process. So throughout this entire album, that story line will continue to play out. And the ending is quite remarkable. So, we’ll get to that one day.

Are you planning to create a longer film treatment for any of the songs, the way you did with “Springsteen”?

Yes [smiles]. We are.

Concert Reviews

Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert “Raise Some Hell” In New York City

For three hours Wednesday night (March 14), Brantley Gilbert and Eric Church brought their blend of rock infused country to New York. The sold-out show at Hammerstein Ballroom included a slew of each artist’s most recent radio hits and older fan favorites.

Georgia-based Gilbert kicked off the night with the energetic “My Kinda Party.” A hit made famous by Jason Aldean‘s rendition, Gilbert wrote the track for his 2009 album, Modern Day Prodigal Son.

Gilbert screamed, “Let’s raise some hell!” — a sentiment Church later shared with the crowd. With a heart-pounding drum beat, the familiar “Country Must Be Country Wide” soon followed.

“I wrote this next song with a good friend of mine, Colt Ford,” Gilbert said as he introduced “Dirt Road Anthem.” With spot-on vocals and perfected rap interludes, Gilbert had the room singing along word for word.

“New York hell, you all know how to throw it down over here. I’m impressed,” he added.

While current single “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and “My Kind of Crazy” slowed down the night, things picked right back up with the intensity of “Kick It In the Sticks.” “Are there any rednecks in New York?” Gilbert asked. With impressive guitar riffs and Gilbert’s rugged vocals, the track was an unforgettable end to his set.

Minutes before 9pm, Eric Church took the stage. With a red Solo cup attached to his mic stand, he immediately let the room know it would be a rowdy night with plenty of Jack Daniels. Church began his set with the fitting “Country Music Jesus,” and with onstage bursts of flames and canon fire, he captivated.

Hit singles “Guys Like Me” and “Hell On the Heart” followed suit and needed no introduction.

“Welcome to the Blood, Sweat and Beers sold-out show in New York City!” Church said as he greeted the room for the first time. “We’ll drink, we’ll sing and we’ll see how the show goes.”

And he wasn’t lying. Throughout his set, Church ran across the stage, saluted the crowd with the tip of his hat and even autographed two fans’ boots.

With twangy banjo accompaniment “How ‘Bout You” had fans clapping along and chanting “U.S.A.” Poignant ballad “Carolina” showcased Church’s more sensitive side, while the Americana-fused “Creepin’” satisfied with a heavy bass beat and deep vocals.

“This whole thing started for us six or seven years ago with Sinners Like Me. I’m going to take you back to where it all started,” Church said. Taking the stage solo with his acoustic guitar, Church performed “Two Pink Lines,” “Sinners Like Me” and “Love Your Love the Most.”

While the stripped-down performance continued to showcase his ability to switch gears effortlessly, he livened things right back up with bar rocker “Drink In My Hand” and the soulful “Homeboy.” Minutes later the room was engulfed in smoke for the feel-good “Smoke A Little Smoke.”

“Thank you for having us here,” Church said as the night came to an end and he introduced his last song, “Springsteen.”

“I’ve never been more excited to sing a song every night. When I sing this song I’m 17-years-old again. That’s why I love music. You’re right back in that car and right back with that girl again.”

Concert Reviews

Miranda Lambert Kicks Off Revolution Tour

New York City’s Terminal 5 was packed to capacity Wednesday night for the start of CMT’s ninth annual CMT on Tour, this year featuring Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Josh Kelley. New Yorkers put on their cowboy boots and hats for the three-hour show and proved that the city that never sleeps has some very ardent country fans. Hats, beer cups and even one girl’s cowboy boot were raised in the air multiple times throughout the evening.

David Nail and Lady Antebellum were spotted in the crowd, as was Josh’s wife, actress Katherine Heigl, who danced along to most of Miranda’s set. On the heels of their Beacon Theater performance, Lady A and David opted to spend an extra night in New York to catch the show before flying to St. Louis to continue their current headlining tour.

The first day of the tour, Miranda confessed she missed sound check and instead spent the night in Nashville to celebrate fiancé Blake Shelton’s induction into the Grand Ole Opry.

For the complete review, visit The Boot.